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Conceptualising the Audience

New media and photography theory – Week 6 2013


Week six consisted of critiquing the common-sense approach to the audience. The audience is defined by Long and Wall as “an anonymous and variable collective of individuals addressed (as a group of individuals) by the organs of ‘mass’ media communication” (Long and Wall 2012:488). This week moved beyond the original ideas of audience and into the ideas of the audience being a product of the media (Long and Wall 2012:275).

A realisation that became apparent during the lecture was that without the audience, there would be no media and without the media there would be no profit. The more there is of media, in a variety of outlets and forms, the more competition. This adds pressure to the producers to attract more audiences using a variety of methods to continue to make the profit that they need.

Long describes how we are not always aware of being part of an audience, no matter how many millions of consumers are also sharing the same experience at the same time. (Long and Wall, 2012:279) Whilst Mattelart describes it from the perspective of producers “each media institution has its own specific way of positioning the viewer, regulating certain aspects of the production of meaning and production of emotional responses, and so forth”.(Mattelart, A 1992:82) Audience unawareness and power or manipulation by the producer implies in this case the vulnerability and passivity of consumers. I wonder how many people notice the ‘how are you feeling today John?’ question that appears in the box before you write a status on Facebook. Again this first person text positions its audience into feeling unique and influences them in some cases to carry out the producer’s desired response of a status and therefore, more time spent on Facebook.

That however, is not comparable to the possible media effects and influence from propaganda. It is an active manipulation of ideas, information and aims to inject its desired effects into its audience by restricting and misinforming them of other options. (Long and Wall 2012:286) Mattelart discusses the role of active minorities in manipulation of inert societies and discusses The Frankfurt School in their belief in the omnipotence of the mass media (Mattelart, A 1992:73). Nazi Germany used it to achieve large influence in world war two. However, the same concepts –if not slightly subtler- are still being used today in the likes of President Obama’s political campaign.

My two readings have altered my view on possible media power. I want to research further into modern day examples of moral panics created by new media. Fast paced and immediacy of the new media industry can create news before it has even been officially reported by the press and therefore the effects on the audience can be elevated.


Long, P and Wall, T (2012) Media Studies: Texts, Production, Context (2nd Edition), London:Pearson.

Mattelart, A and Mattelart, M. (1992). New paradigms: The procedures of consumption. In: Translation by Cohen, J and Urquidi, M. Series editor: Bolton, R Rethinking media theory: Signposts and new directions. 2nd ed. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. p72-86.


Media production in a global age: regulation and production practices

New media and photography theory – week 3 2013


Globalization was the topic of this weeks lecture and is defined by Anthony Giddens as “the intensification of world-wide social relations, which link distinct localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice-versa” (Giddens, 1990 in Long and Wall 2004:245)

The first point which was outlined was that there is high media usage in the western countries and much less in other countries such as Africa and the Middle East. Factors which could be contributing to this are gender, income, race and location. (Couldry in Long and Wall 2004:190)

In my further reading the same view is explored “we were committed from the start to an exploration of ‘the complex and dominative relationships of Western media systems to those of developing countries. That problem – ‘the West and the Rest’ – remains with us to this day”  (Editorial, 1979: 2 in Punathambekar, A 2013:5 ) supporting the conclusion that there is a digital divide in the media behavior in the west, and then the rest.

The link between political economy and globalisation is argued by Punathambekar “Globalization has been articulated in the trajectory traced by Sparks within a political economy frame” (Punathambekar, A 2013:5) “Since the start of this century the focus has again shifted – this time to the internet and its potentialities as a public sphere in light of globalization and accelerating mass access to the internet, cell-phone and social media all over the world” (Punathambekar, A 2013:6).

The media forms, listed here are what make globalisation of new media products/ideas so simple. For example, a member of the public will witness a disaster and is able to take a picture on their phone, uses Twitter and Facebook to document and comment about the issues which are then available on cyber space for the world to view.

The further developments and adaptations of media organisations and their products can help them to become globalised.  Actions like becoming active on social media, providing their audience with applications for their phones, having YouTube channel and many more lead them on the path to reaching people around the world.

For further investigation on this topic I would use the methodology of an organisation study to determine the growth and development of a media company to a global level. To do this, I would have to visit their website and any texts that they have produced. To go into strong academic depth, I would contact the company for any contributing factors and analyse the adaptation in their products over a period of time.


Long, P and Wall, T (2012) Media Studies: Texts, Production, Context (2nd Edition), London:Pearson.

Punathambekar, A. (2013). Back to the future: media and communication studies in the 21st century. Media Culture and Society . 35 (1), p3-8.

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Emily Brammeier is my friend, housemate and fellow student at Birmingham City University.

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“The ramblings of Emily Brammeier, a media and PR student at Birmingham City University”